Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Woord van de dag: rouwen

What will I do tonight (or in Dutch translation 'What shall I tonight to do?)?

Let's check out the free newspaper available in the metro, called Metro.

Aha!... films.

Ooh, 'Gravity'. It's had good reviews…hmmm.

Oh. I can understand most of this in Dutch (glows).

Hang on. What the…. ? "Zij rouwt"…!? (confused look)

Must be the verb 'rouwen'. Is it similar to an English verb? (thinks….)

Nope. Gonna have to look it up.

Rouwen: 'to mourn'

Etymologie of rouwen in Dutch: Proto Germanic 'hrewwana'.
Cognate with Old English 'hreowan' from whence 'rue' a little used word for 'sorrow' (for example, "He rued the day…").

The etymology of mourn is from the PIE root mer- (to remember).

Sounds like a fun film!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

English should be Brussels' official language.

This might sound like any other blogger spouting off about Belgium and its old, intricate and sometimes confusing linguistic issues and so can easily be dismissed. Who am I to make a difference, right? I'm just some blogger bloke.

The thing is, I didn't say this: "English should be Brussels' official language". Flemish Minister for Education Pascal Smet did. In this article he says it would help Brussels to be further perceived as an international city and (although he doesn't say this in the article) might smooth over some of the linguistic tensions in this multilingual capital.

It seems Mr Smet is echoing German President Joachim Gauck's comments when he suggested English should be the EU's official language. Although there are many obstacles to this idea, not only because it is undemocratic, it's clear to me Gauck is suggesting a more streamlined communications process in the workings of the EU.

But on a personal and completely egocentric level alone…please don't make it more difficult for me to learn Dutch Mr Smet. It's hard enough as it is! I can't find a Dutch speaker willing to speak to me in Dutch in Brussels anyway! This would make it even worse… Let's keep Brussels multi-cultural and mutli-lingual. It's one of the things that makes it a special place.

Vive la différence!

Monday, 28 October 2013

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Culture chameleon

With a bit of work we can change languages, but can we change culture so easily? Jean finds out…

Jean takes a look into a cultural journey, highlighting some of the stark differences between two peoples sharing the same country but different languages. Can he do it? Is he a bit weird all the same?

Judge for yourself…..

(in Dutch and French)

Monday, 14 October 2013

Translation Poetry on the Tram

Another great language initiative in what must be one of the most linguistically diverse capitals of Europe. In Brussels we often see signs, notices and adverts in several languages and so can readily translate different meanings and learn new phrases. Of course a little knowledge can be dangerous, so when reading multilingual literature you have to know that poetic license may have been used. Despite this it can be a useful and enriching experience.

Take for example the Transpoesie project running on Brussels' trams at the moment. Poetry from around Europe is posted on trams in their original language as well as in French and in Dutch.

Enjoy the poetry and learn some new words and phrases in Dutch and French.

Elsewhere, a headline cries
a man was lynched yesterday,

Billie Holiday is cured for good now 
on the cover of Ebony, 1949.

The guitar drags like an anchor,
rope around its neck, and keeps on

singing, side to side, its strings alive


Ergens anders, een krantenkop schreeuwt
een man werd gisteren gelyncht,

Billie Holiday is nu voorgoed genezen
op de cover van Ebony, 1949.

De gitaar sleept als een anker,
touw rond zijn nek, blijft hij

zingen, heen en weer, de snaren levend